From Kipchoge to Bekele, 5 Fastest Male Marathoners of All Time Ahead of 2023 Berlin Marathon

From Kipchoge to Bekele, 5 Fastest Male Marathoners of All Time Ahead of 2023 Berlin Marathon

Edwin Kiplagat
September 21, 2023 at 9:19 AM
  • The 2023 Berlin Marathon is here and expectations are high
  • Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele and many other athletes have set world records and personal bets on this course
  • Sports Brief looks at the fastest marathoners of all time

The 2023 track and field season is done and dusted but we still have some world-class road events left in 2023, starting this weekend with the Berlin Marathon.

Over the years, the German long-distance race has produced an incredible 12 world records, including Eliud Kipchoge's last year. The 49th edition could see Kipchoge or another athlete break the world record.

Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele, London marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Boston marathon
The Berlin Marathon is the world's fastest course. Photos by Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto and John Macdougall.
Source: Getty Images

Kipchoge is regarded as the greatest marathoner of all time. The Kenyan icon has won 15 of the 17 marathons he has run, and that could become 16 on Sunday morning.

The double Olympic champion has broken the world record twice and has run the distance in under 2 hours, although that record is unofficial.

Ahead of this year's Berlin Marathon, Sports Brief looks at the five fastest male marathon runners of all time. Kenyans and Ethiopians dominate the top 50 places.

5 fastest male marathoners

5. Mosinet Geremew - 2:02:55 - 2019 London Marathon

The Ethiopian ran the fifth fastest marathon of all time and finished second in the 2019 London Marathon; that's how stacked the field was. Of course, Kipchoge won the race in 2:02.37. He also finished second in the 2019 and 2022 World Athletics Championships.

4. Birhanu Legese - 2:02:48 - 2019 Berlin Marathon

Legese finished second in the 2019 Berlin Marathon behind compatriot and one of the greatest runners of all time, Kenenisa Bekele. The two-time Tokyo Marathon champion clocked 2:02.48 behind Bekele, who narrowly missed the world record, clocking two hours, one minute and 41 seconds.

3. Kenenisa Bekele - 2:01:41 - 2019 Berlin Marathon

In 2019, Bekele clocked 2:01:41 in the Berlin Marathon, missing Kipchoge's 2018 world record by two seconds. He is a three-time Olympic champion and five-time world champion and his two marathon wins have come in the Berlin Marathon (2019, 2016). Bekele is 41 years old and it is unclear if he is pondering retirement.

2. Kelvin Kiptum - 2:01:25 - 2023 London Marathon

Kiptum produced one of the best marathon performances in April 2023 to win the London Marathon. This time is the second fastest time and some felt the youngster could break Kipchoge's world record. He clocked 59:45 in the second half of the race to win by almost three minutes ahead of his compatriot, Geoffrey Kamworor (2:04:23), per World Athletics.

The 2019 edition was Kiptum's second-ever marathon. He will make his US marathon debut in Chicago on October 8.

1. Eliud Kipchoge - 2:01:09 - 2022 Berlin Marathon

There are not enough superlatives to describe Kipchoge. He is a two-time Olympic champion in the marathon and has won 15 marathons in his career. He will be looking to win his 5th Berlin Marathon title this Sunday.

In last year's edition, he was on course to under 2:01, but he fell short. On Sunday, he will also be looking to bounce back following a 6th-place finish in the 2023 Boston Marathon. The 38-year-old has won four of the sport's six World Marathon Majors.

Kipchoge identifies his successor

Sports Brief earlier reported on Kipchoge backing Kiptum to break the marathon records he has set and possibly become the first man to run under two hours.

He was just 18 seconds away from eclipsing Kipchoge's record in London, with the Kenyan agreeing that records are meant to be broken and also urging Kiptum on.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.
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